Do I have allergies or a sinus infection?


Spring sprang early in central Ohio, and the warmer weather has brought earlier blooms, more bugs and plenty of…phlegm.

If you find yourself sniffling more than normal, it could be allergies. Or maybe it’s a sinus infection, or a cold. If you don’t have a history of seasonal allergies, it’s hard to know.

So we talked to Princess Ogbogu, MD, one of our allergy and breathing experts. Here’s what she had to say about symptoms:

Sinus infections bring:

  • sinus pressure behind your eyes, cheeks and even your top gums
  • a runny or stuffy nose that lasts more than a week
  • thick yellow or green mucus draining from your nose or down the back of your throat (postnasal drip)
  • a fever
  • bad breath

Seasonal allergies usually come with:

  • sneezing
  • runny nose with clear mucus
  • sore throat (most often caused by postnasal drip)
  • itchy, watery eyes
  • symptoms that last for several weeks or occur at the same time every year
  • no fever, and no body aches – so if you’re dealing with those, it hasn’t been caused by allergies!

You may have a cold if you have:

  • a sore throat
  • a cough
  • a headache
  • a stuffy nose
  • fatigue
  • a fever (usually low-grade in adults but higher in children)
  • less sneezing than occurs with allergies – so if you’re achoo-ing up a storm, you can curse pollen and other allergens that affect central Ohioans.

Finally: Colds are usually caused by viruses, last about a week and are relieved by rest and over-the-counter decongestants. Seasonal allergies cause itching and sneezing, can persist for weeks or months, tend to recur each year and run in families.

Now that you’ve read the list (and given mucus more thought than you expected today), if it’s seasonal or year-round allergies you suspect, we can help you feel better. Don’t suffer all spring!